by Ryan James Lamb 

The dull green Daihatsu Sedan pulled into the car park with a grunkling sound and came to a crooked stop between two bays.

‘Don’t forget the bag.’ Robert said stepping out of the driver’s side.

‘Yeah, yeah, yeah.’ Goyle replied holding one of the backpack’s straps in his mouth and hopping out of the car. Slinging the bag over his back he bounded on his knuckles and feet after Robert. ‘Hey, wait for me!’

‘Hurry up, please.’ Robert said, walking with his cheeks squeezed together. ‘I don’t want to miss any of the previews.’

‘Aww, I hate the previews.’ Goyle said. ‘What’s this movie called again?’

‘A Most Violent Year. It’s supposed to be a cinematic triumph.’

‘Aw, wow. Like The Nutty Professor.’ ‘Nothing like The Nutty Professor!’ Robert said as the glass doors parted before them and they entered the lobby. ‘Great. There’s a line.’

‘I hope they sell outta tickets.’ Goyle said as they took their place in the queue. ‘Then we can see Spongebob Square Pants.’

‘We are not seeing the Spongebob movie.’
‘Aw, why not?’
‘It’s a child’s movie. And it’s completely vulgar.’
‘I hate you.’

The child ahead in line turned to face them. Her eyes widened as she saw Goyle, standing on his knuckles like some early and repulsive link in human evolution. His bulging eyes stared back at her without blinking and his top teeth were exposed as though his upper lip were scared of his lower.

‘What’re you lookin at, Rat Features?’ he asked her.
She yanked her Father’s hand. He turned and recoiled.
‘Jesus.’ he said. ‘What the hell’re you?’

Goyle shot the man a sideways glance and stood on his hind legs like a meerkat. ‘I’m a Goyle. What the hell’re you?’

‘I don’t like it, Dad.’ the girl said, her head buried in her dad’s side.
‘I don’t like it either, Kiddo.’ The man said putting a hand  on her shoulder and glaring at Goyle. ‘Don’t talk to my daughter again.’

The man turned back toward the counter, he and his daughter inching closer to the people in front of them.

‘See what you did?’ Robert said. ‘Why can’t you just keep your head down when we’re in public?’
‘My head’s already down.’ Goyle said. ‘It’s really close to the floor.’
‘Not what I meant at all.’ Robert said as the line moved on. ‘People aren’t used to seeing something that looks like you.’
‘Hey,’ Goyle said scratching at Robert’s leg with a long and filthy nail. ‘I told you not to call me a something.’
‘Ow,’ Robert said rubbing his leg. ‘Yeah, you’re right. I’m sorry I forgot. But please try and see it from my point of view.’
‘Yeah all right. Can we get popcorn?’
‘Aww.’ Goyle moaned as they stepped up to the counter.
‘Hello!’ The girl at the ticket booth said with a grin. ‘How are you tonight?’
‘My goodness.’ Robert said under his breath. ‘Umm, quite well thank you. We’d like two for A Most Violent Year.’
‘Oh,’ the girl said craning her head to look down. ‘Do you have a child with you-’ She stopped as she saw the humanoid monster perched on the floor. Dressed in running shorts and a checkered shirt both caked in dirt and grime, it stared back at her.
‘Hello.’ Goyle said waving.
The girl raised her hand in a rigid wave and swallowed hard.
‘That’s two, adults then?’
‘Yes.’ Robert said glaring down at Goyle.
‘Anything from the candy bar?’
‘No, thank you.’ Robert said. ‘I don’t tend to eat much sugar.’
‘Aww, but what about the colas and chocolate in the bag?’ Goyle asked.
‘Quiet, Goyle!’ Robert said. ‘He’s only joking. That bag just has our gym stuff in it.’
‘It’s really fine.’ the girl said handing him the tickets. ‘Cinema three.’
‘I haven’t paid for these yet.’
‘Oh right. Threnty, uhhh, twenty-three.’

     ‘My God.’ Robert said as they walked down the hall toward the cinema, Goyle sniffing at the sticky carpet for stray pieces of popcorn.
‘No one’s dropped any.’ Goyle said. ‘It’s normally everywhere.’
‘I think she was the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen.’ Robert said.
‘She was alright. Kinda funny lookin.’
‘Am I crazy or was there something there?’
‘Meh, heh, heh!’ Goyle laughed. ‘Yeah right.’
‘She was stuttering toward the end there. Seemed a little flustered. And she tried to give me free tickets.’
‘Maybe she’s just a bit spazzy.’
‘Aww, man, that popcorn smells good.’ Goyle said snorting in nosefuls of crowded cinema air.
‘I wish we hadn’t had to sit so close to the front.’ Robert said rifling through the bag and pulling out a wet can of cola. ‘Dammit.’ he said squeezing the can. ‘One of the colas has leaked in the bag.’
‘That’s yours then.’
‘I don’t think so, Goyle. You probably weren’t careful enough with the bag. Here.’ He said handing Goyle the half-empty can. ‘Enjoy.’
‘Aww, crap.’ Goyle said licking the side of the can. ‘It’s all flat.’
‘Can youse two shut up?’ Asked the thick-necked man in the seat in front who had turned to face them.
‘Ah, yes. Sorry.’ Robert said putting his can of cola in the cupholder. ‘Please try and be quiet, Goyle.’
‘Can I have some chips.’ Goyle asked.
‘Alright.’ Robert whispered passing him the bag. ‘But try to be-’

There was a loud crackle followed by a pop as Goyle pulled the bag into two pieces sending a flurry of chips into the air like a bunch of salt and vinegar butterflies. The thick-necked man turned and glared at them. It was when he turned back that Robert noticed the markings of a tattoo printed on the man’s freshly shaved head, indecipherable in the dark of the cinema.

‘Goyle,’ Robert whispered. ‘Please try to be quiet.’
‘Aw, it’s only the previews.’ Goyle said gathering chips off of the floor and munching them.

The thick-necked man turned once more. ‘This is the last time I’m gonna ask yas. Shut the hell up or I’ll drag yas outside and kick the crap outta yas.’

‘Alright.’ Robert said, his voice frail. ‘I’m really sorry, Sir.’
‘Just shut the hell up.’ the man said turning back and putting an arm around the girl beside him.

Robert closed his eyes and gripped the seat and took a deep breath. As he exhaled he heard an aggressive and exceptionally sloppy raspberry erupt from the seat beside him. He opened his eyes to see the man wipe a hand over the back of his head before inspecting it.

‘Oh no.’ Robert said. ‘Goyle, what’ve you done?’
The man rose like some heavy beast awakened and turned.

‘Which one of you did that?’ he asked. His voice was low and calm which only fuelled Robert’s terror.
‘It-’ Robert said. ‘It w-was-’
‘It was him.’ Goyle said pointing at Robert. ‘He said you should take your ugly missus home so we don’t have to smell ‘er.’
‘What?!’ Robert cried.

There was a sharp movement in the dark as the large man seized Robert’s throat. There were mutters and gasps from movie goers witnessing the altercation as it was silhouetted against an advertisement for McCarthy’s Jewellers.

‘Drexel, what the hell?!’ the man’s companion said standing and slapping him on the back of the head. ‘Cut it out!’
‘Aw, no.’ Goyle said as Robert squirmed. ‘Hey, let him go!’
‘Get out of it, or you’ll get it too.’
‘Aw, yeah?’

There was a booming cry as Goyle’s teeth sunk into the man’s arm.

Some people, obviously deciding that this was about to become a most violent evening at the movies, had begun to get up from their seats and head to the exit. One of these was the lady seated next to the thick-necked man who stood just as he pried his arm loose from Goyle’s mouth. The bloody forearm collided with the old woman’s head, sending her over the seat in front of her and into the laps of some teenagers.

‘Oh crap!’ The girl cried. ‘Look what you did, Drexel!’

‘Run!’ Goyle shouted to Robert who was already retreating through the aisle of seats with no regard for the people in them. The result was a Mexican-Wave of knees and feet lifting off of the floor and a chorus of curse words and one person expressing his wishes that Robert die in a fire.

     His shoulder hit the heavy cinema door with a thud and he stumbled into the brightness of the foyer, his arms and legs flailing as he struggled to stay upright. There was a crash then as he collided with a puny teen carrying a large popcorn and drink combo. Robert sat up and wiped his soggy face in time to see Goyle bounding out of the cinema followed by the thick-necked man who in the well-lit foyer turned out to be quite thick altogether. He seemed not to notice the door, running through it at full speed and sending it thwacking against the wall and rigorously testing the durability of its hinges. As Goyle disappeared into the crowd of confused, amused, and in the case of the puny teen, severely abused patrons, the thick man’s gaze fixed on Robert, now scrambling to his feet.

‘You’re dead!’ he cried as Robert bolted for the door, his scuddy Converse crunching the teen’s glasses as he fled.

It was around this time that Robert’s adrenaline finally kicked in. Time slowed down and he saw his path of escape clear. The excess fat around his middle jiggled with each lunge of his chunky thighs and his greasy, curly hair flowed behind him like nothing very majestic. It was quite surprising that in this heightened state of focus Robert failed to see the identical and equally puny twin of the crushed teen, whose mangled spectacles were still clinging to Robert’s sole. The only real noticeable difference between the two boys in fact, was that the second had opted for the extra-large popcorn and drink combo and these exploded in a larger radius than his not-so-greedy brother’s.

     There was no time to wipe his face this time as Robert felt two gorilla-sized hands seize his ankles and begin to drag him across the carpet.

‘Help!’ he shrieked. ‘Somebody help!’ Quite unsurprising was the fact that none of the patrons wanted to intervene in the abduction of a pudgy, twenty-something man who had just wiped out two young boys in the space of about fifteen seconds.

‘Jesus Christ! Someone help me!’ These were the cries Goyle ignored as he battered the knees of patrons on his way toward the counter.

‘Oh my God!’ A woman shrieked.
‘What the fuck is that thing?!’ An old man implored someone, anyone, to tell him.

Goyle paid them no mind either. As the counter came into view he beheld a glass cube containing  enough popcorn to fill he and Robert’s bathtub.

‘Can I help anybody?!’ The manager called from behind the counter in an attempt to wrangle the scattered patrons. ‘Anybody?! Who’s nex- Oh my God!’ he said as he saw Goyle crouched before him. His jaw hadn’t quite descended entirely when Goyle leapt onto the counter and propelled himself into the popcorn machine with amazing fluidity.

       The manager’s head swivelled from one side of the counter to the other searching for someone to help him. There was not a staff member in sight and it appeared that things at the other end of the foyer were just as dire as patrons jumped and cheered and a large man dragged something into the men’s room.

Turning to watch as the grotesque creature buried its head in the mound of popcorn he sprinted to one end of the counter where a fire extinguisher hung on the wall. Returning to the popcorn machine he pulled the pin, levelled the nozzle and discharged the extinguisher all over the monster’s back. There was a cloud of white mist and some in the crowd turned to view this new spectacle. There were the sounds of choking and flailing within the mist and as it cleared the thing stood facing him, now powdered white.

‘What’d ya do that for?’ it said, its yellow teeth the only thing of colour on its person. ‘Ya ruined it.’
‘What the hell are you?!’ the manager cried.
‘Mehhhhhhhh!’ it hissed before lunging at him. The extinguisher hit the floor with a hollow thud and the two tumbled over the counter onto the carpet. The manager squeezed his eyes shut, held his arms over his face, ready for the blow of the creature’s fists, the tearing scratch of its claws. When nothing came he opened his eyes and saw it charging into the crowd leaving a faint cloud of mist behind it.

      ‘Please!’ Robert cried as he and his pursuer came to a stop in front of the urinal. ‘It wasn’t me! It was-’
He was silenced by a boot to his ribs.
‘Shut up!’
Robert rolled onto his side and looked up at the thick man. ‘What are you gonna do to me?’
The man only pointed to the urinal.
‘What? What do y-’
‘Lick it.’
‘What?!’ Robert cried rolling onto his back.
‘Lick it!’
‘I can’t! That’s disgusting!’
‘You’re disgusting!’ The man said, pointing a finger down at him. ‘You spat chips on the back’a my head! You insulted my missus! Ya smashed into those two kids! Now lick it!’ Leaning down and taking a handful of Robert’s oily hair he held his face up to the stainless-steel surface of the urinal.
‘Please.’ Robert begged.
‘Do it!’ the man said twisting Robert’s hair.
‘Alright!’ he shrieked. ‘Alright.’ Closing his eyes, Robert’s tongue inched from his mouth. His face wrinkled like the sultanas in his fridge (which he had bought when they were grapes) as he tasted the pissy steel and then snapped his jaw shut.
‘I said lick it!’ The man said. ‘Don’t just touch your tongue to it!’
‘Oh God!’ Robert said spitting and sputtering.
‘Lick it like you like it!’

Robert poked his tongue out again when the bathroom door swung open. The thick man turned to face the intruder, pulling Robert with him.

‘What the hell’s goin on ‘ere?!’ the policeman asked.

     ‘So you’re tellin me your friend bit this man. Then you ran into two kids and knocked em both flat?’
‘Yes!’ Robert said sitting on one of the sofas in the cinema’s lobby. ‘But he strangled me! He made me lick the-’
‘I wouldn’t be pointin fingers, Mate!’ the officer said. ‘I’d be thankin ya lucky stars the parents and the cinema aren’t pressin charges! You are gonna have’ta pay for all that popcorn ya friend ate and to get that fire extinguisher refilled.’
‘But that wasn’t me!’
‘Well my partner hasn’t been able to track down this friend or thing or whatever it is, so I’m afraid you’re on the hook. Like I said, count yaself lucky.’ The officer turned to where the thick man stood, smirking, his girlfriend by his side. ‘You guys’re all good to go.’ he said extending his hand. ‘Thank you for ya cooperation.’
‘My pleasure.’ the thick man said shaking hands.

      The manager unlocked the door for Robert, offering him one last glare as he did. Robert put his wallet back in his pocket and walked out into the night, the taste of urine still lingering on his tongue. He reached his car, now the only one in the carpark save for the paddy wagon, and got in. He lurched against his door as the passenger’s opened and a white figure scrambled into the car.

‘Oh.’ Robert said. ‘It’s you.’
‘I had to hide in the bushes.’ Goyle replied. ‘That cop lady was lookin for me.’
‘I hope you’re happy, Goyle! That whole incident was entirely your fault!’
‘Aww, what’d I do?’
‘Don’t start with me!’ Robert said. ‘You owe me a hundred dollars.’
‘Aww, what for?’
‘You just do.’ Robert said as the car struggled to life. ‘Hey, did you manage to get the colas?’
‘Just this one.’ Goyle replied pulling the can out of the bag, half-crushed and leaking.’
‘Ah, good. Give it here. I need to get the taste of urine out of my mouth.’
‘Aww, sorry, Robert.’ Goyle said glugging from the can. ‘This one’s mine remember.’

Robert gritted his teeth and yanked the car into reverse.

‘Meh heh heh heh!’ Goyle laughed as the car pulled out of the car park and into the street.

About the Author:

Ryan Lamb is a writer from Western Australia. His writing is inspired by authors such as Terry Pratchett, Haruki Murakami as well as all of the weird people he has met in his life.